• Good Friday 2024

    Jesus, my brother,  
    Jesus, my maker,  
    Today, you paid my bills.   
    What can I do, but fall on my face,  
    And thank you for your grace?  
    Jesus, my Lord.
    
  • A Good Yarn

    I’m really enjoying this audiobook of The Odyssey read by the actor, Anton Lesser. The translation by Ian Johnston is very accessible (if a bit awkward at times). I think this story has legs. 📚

  • Right Now | Kenneth Fields

    It’s nineteen years today since he last held
    A drink in his hand or held his breath while smoke
    Filled as much of him as he could stand
    Till, letting it out, he sought oblivion
    Of the trace of memory or anticipation,
    And his life fell into a death spiral. Since then
    He’s been around folks like him. When he’s been asked,
    And sometimes, eager, when he hasn’t been,
    He talks to the ones who are not even sure
    They want to learn how to stop killing themselves.
    That feeling still seems close to him some days.
    Right now he’s okay, and that’s enough, right now.

    RIP, Ken. You were important in my life.

  • After an illness, walking the dog | Jane Kenyon
    Wet things smell stronger,
    and I suppose his main regret is that
    he can sniff just one at a time.
    In a frenzy of delight
    he runs way up the sandy road—
    scored by freshets after five days
    of rain. Every pebble gleams, every leaf. 
    
    When I whistle he halts abruptly
    and steps in a circle,
    swings his extravagant tail.
    The he rolls and rubs his muzzle
    in a particular place, while the drizzle
    falls without cease, and Queen Anne’s lace
    and Goldenrod bend low.
    
    The top of the logging road stands open
    and light. Another day, before
    hunting starts, we’ll see how far it goes,
    leaving word first at home.
    The footing is ambiguous.
    
    Soaked and muddy, the dog drops,
    panting, and looks up with what amounts
    to a grin. It’s so good to be uphill with him,
    nicely winded, and looking down on the pond.
    
    A sound commences in my left ear
    like the sound of the sea in a shell;
    a downward, vertiginous drag comes with it.
    Time to head home. I wait
    until we’re nearly out to the main road
    to put him back on the leash, and he
    —the designated optimist—
    imagines to the end that he is free.
    
  • Fellowship - Christian Wiman
    Tragedy and Christianity are incommensurable,
    he declared, which we’d have chalked to bluster
    had he not, within the month, held a son
    hot from the womb but cold to his kiss,
    and over a coffin compact as a toolbox wept
    in the wrecked unreachable way that most resist,
    and that all of us, where we are most ourselves,
    turn away from.
                                  Bonded and islanded 
    by the silence, we waited there,
    desperate, with our own pains, to believe,
    desperate, with our own pains, not to.
    
  • Because You Asked about the Line Between Prose and Poetry
    - Howard Nemerov
    Sparrows were feeding in a freezing drizzle
    That while you watched turned to pieces of snow
    Riding a gradient invisible
    From silver aslant to random, white, and slow.
    
    There came a moment that you couldn’t tell.
    And then they clearly flew instead of fell.
    
  • from Symmetries & Asymmetries - W.H. Auden
    Could any tiger
    Drink martinis, smoke cigars,
    And last as we do?
    
  • The Bloody Mary - Susan Donnelly
    Sunday in late December
    calls for one, with a celery stalk
    and faint taste of Worcestershire,
    to be sipped while eating
    poached egg and corned beef hash,
    in a hotel dining room
    with someone you love. Touch
    the hairs at his wrist
    as the warmth endorses
    all bed-lingering, non-churchgoing.
    It's the solstice, remember,
    when your frugal father
    would hand around dollar bills
    so the day would last longer. 
    Stir ice into the rich red
    and consider such Celtic rituals,
    as you watch, beyond the tall windows,
    pilgrims traveling the paths
    past snow-fringed trees in the park.
  • Chores - Maxine Kumin
    All day he’s shoveled green pine sawdust
    out of the trailer truck into the chute.
    From time to time he’s clambered down to even
    the pile. Now his hair is frosted with sawdust.
    Little rivers of sawdust pour out of his boots.
    

    I hope in the afterlife there’s none of this stuff he says, stripping nude in the late September sun while I broom off his jeans, his sweater flocked with granules, his immersed-in-sawdust socks. I hope there’s no bedding, no stalls, no barn

    no more repairs to the paddock gate the horses burst through when snow avalanches off the roof. Although the old broodmare, our first foal, is his, horses, he’s fond of saying, make divorces. Fifty years married, he’s safely facetious.

    No garden pump that’s airbound, no window a grouse flies into and shatters, no ancient tractor’s intractable problem with carburetor ignition or piston, no mowers and no chain saws that refuse to start, or start, misfire and quit.

    But after a Bloody Mary on the terrace already frost-heaved despite our heroic efforts to level the bricks a few years back, he says let’s walk up to the field and catch the sunset and off we go, a couple of aging fools.

    I hope, he says, on the other side there’s a lot less work, but just in case I’m bringing tools.

  • Christmas Mail - Ted Kooser
    Cards in each mailbox,
    angel, manger, star and lamb,
    as the rural carrier,
    driving the snowy roads,
    hears from her bundles
    the plaintive bleating of sheep,
    the shuffle of sandals,
    the clopping of camels.
    At stop after stop,
    she opens the little tin door
    and places deep in the shadows
    the shepherds and wise men,
    the donkeys lank and weary,
    the cow who chews and muses.
    And from her Styrofoam cup,
    white as a star and perched
    on the dashboard, leading her
    ever into the distance,
    there is a hint of hazelnut,
    and then a touch of myrrh.
    
  • I love John Prine
    The moon and stars / hang out in bars / just talkin' -- "Summer's End"
  • Welcome, Morning - Anne Sexton
     
    There is joy
    in all:
    in the hair I brush each morning,
    in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
    that I rub my body with each morning,
    in the chapel of eggs I cook
    each morning,
    in the outcry from the kettle
    that heats my coffee
    each morning,
    in the spoon and the chair
    that cry “hello there, Anne”
    each morning,
    in the godhead of the table
    that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
    each morning.  
    

    All this is God, right here in my pea-green house each morning and I mean, though often forget, to give thanks, to faint down by the kitchen table in a prayer of rejoicing as the holy birds at the kitchen window peck into their marriage of seeds.

    So while I think of it, let me paint a thank-you on my palm for this God, this laughter of the morning, lest it go unspoken.

    The Joy that isn’t shared, I’ve heard, dies young.

  • Ghosts - Jen Rose Yokel
    Quick now, come now
    to where the veil grows thin,
    where the border between 
    real and more real—so real
    we can't bear it—shimmers
    like ghosts going silently
    into moonlit mist, to 
    enfolding fog, a cloud
    of silvered saints hovering
    over the waters.
    
  • depends
    Pinkish-red brick wall with a vertical grout seam in white-cream beside the corner of a black table and green chair.
    "so much depends upon a green chair beside the brick wall ... "
    WCW kind of morning. 📷
  • from "East Coker" | T.S. Eliot
    And what there is to conquer
    By strength and submission, has already been discovered
    Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
    To emulate—but there is no competition—
    There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
    And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
    That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
    For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

    Trite, perhaps. But true. Often, the “tried and true” is trite. But, so what? The truth is the point.

  • Winter After the Stillbirth | Renee Emerson
    My husband dreads the winter. Born
    himself on the darkest day of the year
    and disregarded, he sees nothing
    but black ice, danger of pipes
    bursting, other people’s cats freezing,
    left outside like a name scratched
    off the list.
                               But fish still swim
    beneath the frozen surface of lakes,
    and there are frogs that let their blood
    ice over in the mud to thaw again
    in the spring, green Lazarus come forth.
    

    And even I, born on the last day of winter, can see how the snow can cover this all up to look cleaner than it ever was, for a moment at least, while it is still falling in our hair, in our up-turned, hope-filled faces.

     

  • Here we are!
    I must admit, sometimes I find the daily lectionary to be a chore. Not today.
    This, from Baruch (Baruch! - in the Apocrypha), is simply wonderful:

    ... the stars shone in their watches, and were glad;
    he called them, and they said, ‘Here we are!’
    They shone with gladness for him who made them.

    Baruch 3:34
  • California Hills in August | Dana Gioia
    Golden California Hills in summer with dramatic shadows

    I can imagine someone who found 
    these fields unbearable, who climbed 
    the hillside in the heat, cursing the dust, 
    cracking the brittle weeds underfoot, 
    wishing a few more trees for shade.
    
    An Easterner especially, who would scorn 
    the meagerness of summer, the dry 
    twisted shapes of black elm, 
    scrub oak, and chaparral, a landscape 
    August has already drained of green.
    
    One who would hurry over the clinging 
    thistle, foxtail, golden poppy, 
    knowing everything was just a weed, 
    unable to conceive that these trees 
    and sparse brown bushes were alive.
    
    And hate the bright stillness of the noon 
    without wind, without motion, 
    the only other living thing 
    a hawk, hungry for prey, suspended 
    in the blinding, sunlit blue.
    
    And yet how gentle it seems to someone 
    raised in a landscape short of rain – 
    the skyline of a hill broken by no more 
    trees than one can count, the grass, 
    the empty sky, the wish for water.
    
    
  • Dust | Dorianne Laux
    Someone spoke to me last night,  
    told me the truth. Just a few words,  
    but I recognized it.  
    I knew I should make myself get up,  
    write it down, but it was late,  
    and I was exhausted from working  
    all day in the garden, moving rocks.  
    Now, I remember only the flavor—  
    not like food, sweet or sharp.  
    More like a fine powder, like dust  
    And I wasn't elated or frightened,  
    but simply rapt, aware.  
    That's how it is sometimes—  
    God comes to your window,  
    all bright light and black wings,  
    and you're just too tired to open it.
  • Always Marry an April Girl | Ogden Nash | 🎂
    Praise the spells and bless the charms,
    I found April in my arms.
    April golden, April cloudy,
    Gracious, cruel, tender, rowdy;
    April soft in flowered languor,
    April cold with sudden anger,
    Ever changing, ever true --
    I love April, I love you.
    
  • The Lake Isle | Ezra Pound
    O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,  
    Give me in due time, I beseech you, a little tobacco-shop,  
    With the little bright boxes  
               piled up neatly upon the shelves  
    And the loose fragrant cavendish  
               and the shag,  
    And the bright Virginia  
               loose under the bright glass cases,  
    And a pair of scales not too greasy,  
    And the whores dropping in for a word or two in passing,  
    For a flip word, and to tidy their hair a bit.  
        
    O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
    Lend me a little tobacco-shop,
               or install me in any profession
    Save this damn’d profession of writing,
               where one needs one’s brains all the time.
    

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